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Dex, 2

April 26, 2009  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft   0 Comments

I did a bit of exposition into Dex and the people around him, continuing to world-build in the YOUR LITTLE SISTER universe.

If you have been follwoing along, this is pure world-building Anthony: Hack Writer style. It’s not a short, but it is connected to the previous Dex world-building post. If I was going to stuff this into a book, it would be half as long. Or even shorter. Right now, I have no real plot concerning Dex, although I am thinking Major Hackett will make an important appearance, not here, but later.

I love typing away without structure when world-building, seeing where the setting will take me. Here, I am expanding on the history of the YOUR LITTLE SISTER universe. The novel(s) are set eighteen years from these world-building “notes”.

***

Dex wanted boring back.

Hackett led him to a waiting room at the apex of the space station. She patted his hand, winked at him, and left without a word.

The door slid open and a young woman walked into the room. She was extraordinarily attractive, but her face was a story of fear and worry. She was wearing a brand-new uniform, with Lieutenant Stripes and a S&W G17  strapped to her thigh. Dex guessed she was just out of pre-vocational. She paused when she saw him.

Then she burst into tears and ran from the room.

“The Space Marshal will see you in about five minutes, Leftenant,” said a serene, feminine, voice in his left ear.

Hoo-boy.

Never had five minutes crawled so slowly. Finally, the door opened and a friendly voice called from inside. “Come in, Leftenant, come it.”

Dex strode across a hardwood floor of all things, his new boots clicking. The Space Marshal was standing before his high-tech desk, and Dex stopped and saluted.

Charles Olson held the command General of the Orbital and Space Force, and was primarily responsible for many of the decisions leading to the winning the war and the vanquishing of the enemy.

The new Constitution specified he was beholden to no one. Literally, he was the last in line, both rank wise and from a literal standpoint floating in space above Earth. But a single lowly Constitutional Enforcement Officer could replace him after one of their Jury Trials. Dex thought this was insane, but he had to admit, for a check-and-balance, it was a brilliant insanity.

He knew it was wrong, but he always assumed the man was older and taller. Instead, he was middle-aged, and reminded Dex of his father.

The Marshal returned his salute, briskly shook his hand (and thankfully did not kiss him) and motioned towards a couch with a loveseat in a corner. Dex took the overstuffed chair while the Marshal took the couch.

“This is an orientation, Dex, in which I impress upon my newly minted unrestricted line officers the state of O&E and where they fit into the service.”

“Yes, Sir.” So far, this wasn’t so bad. Dex was still trying to come to grips that he was an unrestricted officer, slatted for command. His two years of vocational training focused on logistics, not command. He would have to go to command school.

He hoped command school was in his future. He really did not know what he was doing. Having people salute him was unnerving.

“First off, and you’ll get all of this in training: O&E is simply a branch in the Military. And that is with a capital “M”. The Constitution does not classify sub-groups, and we probably shouldn’t either. With that said, let me display a the command structure of our entire Military force.”

The coffee table beeped and Dex realized it was a holo projector. Up popped a bunch of boxes with names, connected by lines, and as more boxes came into view, they shrank to display more data. Dex realized he was looking at a three-dimensional org chart.

The chart rotated slowly and the Marshal kept talking. “This is our current officer personnel structure, created after the Military split in three: Office of Constitutional Enforcement, Investigator, Military. Efficiency experts, command analysis and computer modeling designed this model. It flows and adjusts dynamically to standards for our society’s maximum military capabilities.  It’s a brilliant model. Except, of course, it just highlights the singular fact we’re all fucked.”

The Marshal paused and looked at Dex. Suddenly Dex had a bad feeling, one of those nebulous feelings that clawed at the bottom of the gut like an itch.

“Sir?”

“The model doesn’t lie. This is what the design is. Now let me show you the model from Year 1 to today in Year 3. Red is unfulfilled slots.”

Red boxes started appearing. And then more. And more. Suddenly half the chart was in red.

“This model is broken. We can’t use it, so we’re using something we all know sucks. Is sucking a bad thing, Dex, since we won the war? Do you think this is a consequence we should just live with?”

“I…” Dex shut his mouth. This was no easy question. Dex decided to do the ‘think aloud approach’. It could sink him, but at least he wouldn’t be sitting on the couch with his dork hanging out.

“Sir, if that is the model, based on an analysis of our global society as it exists, although new, then that is the model and to ignore it is inviting disaster. On one hand, you could argue the model is moot because there is no enemy. We waged genocide and killed them all.” Dex leaned back as he was thinking. He was getting into the rhythm of his answer.

“On the other hand, the purpose of the Military is to wage war on behalf of society to protect it from threats. Well, we already encounter a threat, and it nearly whipped us out as a species. Therefore, we need to plan for an enemy just as nasty and evil as the Unionists. Denial of logic is responsible for killing three-fifths of the planet’s population, if you add the enemy’s casualty count. We cannot deny the possibility of this happening again.”

The Marshal also leaned back and smiled warily. “Very good, Leftenant.”

Dex wasn’t finished. “In a sense, this model is a blueprint for our future society. We learned, with horrific cost, that Total War was necessary or we would cease to exist. ‘Military’ doesn’t mean much today because for several decades every free person was engaged in a war for our very existence. There was nothing political about the war. It was resist or die. So, in a sense, the model is broken.”

The Marshal cocked an eyebrow at him. “Oh, how so?”

“Can we, as a society, do anything else but wage Total War?”

Silence filled the room. Finally, the Marshal spoke. “A good question, Dex, a really good question. One I don’t have the answer, and neither does anybody else. We’ll just have to see and pray the Constitution can build a society where we can prevent something like that from ever happening again.”

Dex gave the Marshal a thin smile. “We’ll it helps there is only one Government. We’re finally united as a people.”

At horrific cost, was the qualifier that Dex did not need to add.

“Now we come to the part about you. I read your closing thesis, Current Military Expenditures and the Post-War Economy Incomes. In it, you assert corporate user fees cannot sustain the Military past the war infused Nuevo Credit reserves.”

He paused.

“Yes, Sir.”

“An accurate portrayal of finances, and you even took account post-war economy efficiency gains. Without a tax base, you assert, the Military is sustainable but would regress in capability.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Which is all true. To your credit, you did not give an opinion, one-way or the other, if this would be a good thing or not. So I am now here to ask you that very question.”

Dex did not even hesitate. “No Sir, that is bad. Really really bad,” he added, sounding just like his little sister.

“And why is that bad?”

“We belong in Space. Space won this war; our space assets will win the next war. The answer, I believe, is to somehow encourage private expansion into space beyond the Moon. We’ll just follow.”

The Marshal leaned back, looking thoughtful.

“You’re a credit to your generation, Dex. Your parents and your teachers have taught you well. But I am not here to blow nano up your ass. In a way you are right, but your model, just like the one you see floating here,” the Marshal waved a hand at the floating chart, “is broken. No fault of your own, you’re missing a key data point: Japan.”

Dex was puzzled and he was sure he looked puzzled. Japan went untouched by the ravages of war; they were a very industrial people steeped in tradition. Indeed, Dex held an enormous amount of respect for their culture; they adjusted their entire war economy without ripping their society apart like everyone else. If there was any old-style country with borders, it was Japan. They were not an anachronism; they were simply a lifeline into something normal from the past. Dex was sure without Japan, the war would be lost and the human race would have ceased to exist.

Tradition or no, the Japanese were just as enthusiastic about the new Constitution as everyone else was, so Dex didn’t get it.

“I don’t follow, Sir.”

“That’s because nobody talks about it, Dex, because it’s nobody’s business. Except ours. Because of your commission, I will give you the poop: the Japanese are funding the military through taxes. They have a 10% flat tax rate. And the entire amount, literally, goes into Military coffers.”

“But that is emphatically illegal, Sir. There is no tax authority. It is impossible to compose a government that actually collects taxes.”

“Of course. You’re going to find Constitution Enforcement Officers in Tokyo, but they aren’t going to be arresting anybody. You see, this tax is completely voluntary. The Empress of Japan, through word-of-mouth, simply asked people to make the payments. And that’s it. Everyone does. 10% of any Nuevo Credit earned in Japan simply is donated to us on a monthly basis.”

Dex mind whirled. The implications were staggering.

The Marshal grinned. “Amazing, isn’t it? Don’t think this is a pure altruistic dynamic, Leftenant. For one, what the Japanese giveth, the Japanese can taketh away. If the Empress wanted me to hop on down to the Palace and kiss her lily-white butt, I would do it without hesitation and ask her if she wanted me to wipe her ass with my tongue while I was there. There is also a bit of self-defense in their donations: they are very enamored of their wartime economy. They do not want to go through the upheaval everyone else did by going cold turkey. So they didn’t. And it’s a good thing too, because convincing a private company to make us spaceships when they economy is still adjusting to post-war reality would be an exercise in futility. We’re talking decades to get to the same point, if ever.

Dex was thoughtful. What the Marshal just described was a centralization of power, something the newly designed government was supposed to prevent. Yet it wasn’t illegal, so, in the end, wasn’t this just part of the design of letting people do the right thing?

“Wow,” was all Dex could say, feeling stupid for saying it. He couldn’t think of anything else though. He felt punch-drunk.

“Wow indeed. But back to you, Leftenant. Your paper was widely read by everyone interested in recruiting, which, as you can see here by our handy floating model, is everybody. Let’s stuff you in this model, shall we?”

Suddenly there were blue rectangles replacing the red ones. Dozens and dozens.

“The blue represents places where we can stuff you. See all those white squares above the blue ones, connected by the wispy lines? Every single one of those wankers, and I say that with affection, made a play for you. But I cashed in two silver bullets and burnt a bridge to snag you for my greedy bastard self.”

“Why, Sir?”

“Take off your boots and come with me,” the Marshal replied, taking his off with practiced ease.

Dex did so and felt a little foolish, but the Marshal was also in stocking feet, so he mentally shrugged. They walked out of his office, and then through a door from his reception area to a small room devoid of any furnishings or fixtures. The hardwood turned to bare metal, and in the center of the floor was a simple metal disk, a big dot.

“Step on the dot, Mr. Landau, and keep your hands to your sides.”

Dex did so. He heard a whisper and looked up, and a circular hole opened above him.

And then he was floating, quickly, up. He passed through three rooms and suddenly he was in space.

His caught his breath. Literally, it looked like he was “above” the station, floating in space. There was nothing above him. Nothing to the sides. Below him, there was the station, with a small hole at the top of a tower. Between his bare feet and the hole was nothing.

The Earth loomed impossibly large. It seemed to be tugging at him, and the feeling of vertigo was almost sexual.

Dex realized he was still alive, so he decided to start breathing again. He also realized he was stationary, part of the station’s artificial gravity. There was a “down” and an “up”.

Why did I take off my boots?

Dex took a small hesitant step. His foot found a floor. It felt padded, squishy. He was standing on an invisible floor! He could not help it; he put his hands out to his sides, as if to balance. It felt as if he was walking on pillows, and he moved out twenty feet until he bumped into a wall.

He heard another whisper behind him. The Marshal was standing there, grinning.

“You’re doing a lot better than I was when I first came here.”

“What is this place?” asked Dex, almost in a whisper.

“Don’t know. This is an old US, Japanese and Russian built station. Did you know that before the war, the Japanese and Russians hated each other?”

“No Sir, I didn’t. I find that hard to swallow.”

“Heuh, well threats of annihilation of your very soul is a great catalyst to put petty national interests aside. Anyway, this room is not on the original blueprints. The people who built it are not talking. Hell, we don’t even know who the orbital workers were. All the records were lost in the Cyber War. Anyway, we think this room has some early war religious meaning concerning the alliance of Japan and Russia and their contribution to the Federation. You can line yourself up with the three towers of the station and look down to the Sea of Japan. Or something like that. “

Dex looked out at the Earth. “Well, it certainly is having an impact on me Sir. I have never in my life felt this way before.” Dex felt euphoric. The view was so intense it was like a drug.

“Good. To answer your question, this is half the reason why O&S snagged you from the recruit channels: we believe you’re a pilot. You have no qualms like the prior generation about getting implants, nor Uplinking with an AI. The fact that you are standing here, right now, without pissing your pants, and yes, that does happen, means you can adapt to what we call ‘the macro of space’. All of this is similar to what you will feel and experience when you Uplink. Your senses will expand, and you just have to be the right kind of person to do that. It’s why your placement tests and deep scan seemed like they went on forever. Uplinked pilots are both born and made, and thus hard to find.”

Dex absorbed that.

“And the other reason, Sir?”

The Marshal actually frowned, and Dex felt his heart quicken.

“That’s personal. There’s a certain kind of officer, specifically, vets, that I want on my team. It’s a thin red line. One side lays madness and despair over the horrors of war. On the other side, denial. You, my Brother, are on the razors edge.”

Suddenly Dex did not want the Marshal to continue, but the man held his gaze and Dex was helpless.

“I need the kind of young man who made the decision to kill his little sister in the heat of battle. The same young man who saw beyond the utter awfulness of that act to the long-term ramifications on what would happen if he didn’t kill her. That giving her to the enemy would be a crime beyond her murder. You made a choice where other men could not.”

Dex wanted to float away. “But I didn’t, I didn’t kill my little sister,” he whispered.

The Marshal walked right up to Dex. “Of course you didn’t. But you tried.”

How does he know how does he know how does he know?

Dex fainted.

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